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Bayern Germany

Beautiful scenery from Franconia to the Alps - Bavaria at a glance


Bayern Germany (English name is Bavaria) offers a huge scenic diversity. It is also known as the free state (Freistaat) Bayern.
Discover the thriving capital Munich, medieval towns, famous castles, rolling hills and the impressive alpine scenery. Visitors can experience a wide range of leisure activities, sports and join all kind of festivals.
No wonder that Bavaria is a favourite tourist destination, for Germans and travellers from all around the world.

hangman bridge in nuremberg
Hangman's bridge (Henkerssteg) in Nürnberg

Bavaria, located in the south-east of Germany, is the largest German state. It is well-known for Neuschwanstein castle and the Romantic Road. However, let me tell you that Bavaria has much more to offer for your unforgettable holidays.

What do you want to know about Bayern in Germany? Please use the quick links to jump to an area of interest.

Quick Facts     Regions     Cities & towns     Castles     Maps & travel guide     Events     Get around     Hotels

Quick Facts & History of Bayern Germany

Population - Bevölkerung: 12.843.514 (December 2015)
Size - Fläche: 70.550,19 km², it's the largest state
Capital - Hauptstadt: München (Munich) (Pop. 273,871) - this is also the largest city
Nürnberg, Augsburg and Regensburg are other major cities
Geography: Low mountain ranges in the north and east, the Swabian and Franconian Alb in the west, the foothills of the Alps (Alpenvorland) and finally, the alpine mountains in the south.
Highest Mountain - Zugspitze 2,962 m (9,718 ft), this is also Germany's highest mountain
Rivers - The largest river is the Danube (Donau) in the south, and the Main, which meanders through Franconia in the north.

History: People and regions in Bavaria belong to three cultural tribes: Bavarians, Franconians and Swabians.
Altbayern (Old Bavaria), the name-giver of the state, consists of the three districts Upper Palatinate, Upper and Lower Bavaria. It is here where you can hear the real Bavarian language.
Bayern was a kingdom until 1918, ruled by the dynasty of the Wittelsbacher since the 12th century. Franconian and Bavarian-Swabian territories, including their different dialects and traditions, became only part of Bavaria in the early 19th century.

Bavarians feel they are somewhat different as the rest of the Germans. They tend to call Germans from other states humorously "Preißn", the Bavarian version of Preußen (Prussia). Although not all Germans were Prussians. When the going gets tough you might even hear the word "Saupreiß". This is mainly valid for the "Altbayern, or Old Bavaria" districts.

Yes, Bavarians are proud of their history and customs, so are the Franconian and Swabian people. So my very short excursion into history hopefully helps visitors to understand Bayern and its people. You might hear someone in Franken say, we are not Bavarians, we are Franconians.
Anyway, you will find a wide range of traditions, dialects and superb food varieties throughout the state.

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Regions, landscapes & attractions in Bayern (BY)

towers and city wall in dettelbach
Medieval city wall and towers in Dettelbach am Main
There are 7 administrative regions as you can see on the map below. Each one has its own history, culture, highlights and is definitely worth to visit. The map opens in a new window, so you can refer to it while you discover the highlights of Bavaria.

The regions from north to south and their main attractions are as followed. Abbreviation of the German name and the English name in brackets.


Unterfranken (Ufr.) (Lower Franconia), also known as Mainfranken

The river Main, with its large bends, is said to be the heart and soul of Mainfranken. It is a famous wine-growing region.
Picturesque towns and vineyards spread along the riverbank. Cyclists enjoy the separate cycling routes along the river, away from the traffic.

Discover low mountain ranges like the legendary Spessart and Rhön, a paradise for hikers. Everywhere you'll find beautiful little towns with charm and history.

Würzburg with Marienberg fortress, the Residence and the cathedral is best known among travellers.

sunset on the river main
Sunset on the river Main in Marktbreit
Miltenberg, Marktbreit, Dettelbach, Mainbernheim and Ostheim vor der Rhön are only a few of the many beautiful towns in Lower Franconia.


Oberfranken (Ofr.) (Upper Franconia)

The red Main and the white Main flow through the east of Oberfranken before they confluence to build the Main south of Kulmbach.
Beautiful nature and lovely towns, history and culture, invite visitors to stay for a while in the northeast of Bavaria.

Fichtelgebirge with its highest point Schneeberg is a paradise for hikers and wintersports. The Fränkische Schweiz offers rock formations, caves and castles, as well as castle ruins, it is one of the oldest holiday regions in Germany.

Oberfranken is beer country! More than 200 breweries means that you can sample a good beer nearly everywhere.

Bayreuth and Bamberg are the largest cities with a long history and stunning sights. Coburg, Kulmbach, Kronach are a few of many picturesque towns in Upper Franconia.

wörnitz river in dinkelsbühl
Wörnitz river in Dinkelsbühl
Click to read more about Bamberg...


Mittelfranken (Mfr.) (Middle Franconia)

Nürnberg (Nuremberg) is the largest city, followed by Fürth and Erlangen. These three cities in the east of Mittelfranken build the main industrial region. Ansbach, further to the west, is the administrative centre.

The tourism route "Romantic Road" crosses the east, along the border to Baden-Württemberg, through a lovely rural landscape.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl are the most stunning medieval towns, with fortified towers and gates within their still intact city walls.
It is really worthwhile to take your time and stay a few days in Middle Franconia.

Click here to read more about the Romantic Road, or visit my Rothenburg page.


Oberpfalz (OPf.) (Upper Palatinate)

walhalla near regensburg
Walhalla in Donaustauf near Regensburg
Oberpfalz is the least populated district in Bavaria. The mostly rural landscape features nature parks, low mountain ranges and lakes.

The Oberpfälzer Wald is known for its many castles and ruins, which tell the stories of an eventful past. The Upper Palatinate is considered one of the cheapest holiday regions in Germany.

Apart from the nature, the historic old towns of Regensburg, Weiden, Amberg and Neumarkt are amongst the main attractions.

When you are near Regensburg you shouldn't miss the Walhalla. The hall of fame honours people of the German language from all walks of life, politicians, artists, kings, clerics and scientists.
Conceived by Bavarian King Ludwig I, the hall which resembles a Greek temple, was opened in 1842. Walhalla sits on a plateau above the Danube, the views from there are amazing.


Schwaben (Schw.) (Swabia)

Oberbayern (OB) (Upper Bavaria)

longest castle burghausen
Burghausen - longest castle in the world
- Munich

Niederbayern (NB) (Lower Bavaria)

- Landshut

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Cities & towns in Bayern Germany

Being the largest state in Germany, Bayern has several hundreds cities and towns, too many to mention here.
This is just a random recommendation, in alphabetical order, of places I like.

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Amberg - Oberpfalz

Population 41,800

town hall in amberg oberpfalz
Town Hall
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Bamberg - Oberfranken

Population 73,300

bamberg
St. Michael
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Berchtesgaden - Oberbayern

Population 7,800

berchtesgaden and the watzmann mountain
Berchtesgaden & Watzmann
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Dinkelsbühl - Mittelfranken

Population 11,500

weinmarkt in dinkelsbühl
Weinmarkt
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Füssen - Schwaben

Population 15,200

colourful building in fussen
Beautiful Facade
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Lindau - Schwaben

Population 25,100

lindau harbour entrance
Harbour Entrance
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Miltenberg - Unterfranken

Population 9,300

old houses and castle
Mildenburg & Old Town
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Munich - Oberbayern

Population 1,450,000

town hall in munich
New Town Hall
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Nürnberg - Mittelfranken

Population 510,000

old town nuremberg
Old Town & Castle
Nürnberg is not only famous for her sausages, but also for the Christkindlesmarkt, the historical old town with the huge castle and other medieval buildings.

Regensburg - Oberpfalz

Population 145,400

old stone bridge
Old Stone Bridge
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Rothenburg - Mittelfranken

Population 11,000

herrengasse rothenburg
Herrengasse
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Würzburg - Unterfranken

Population 124,800

marienkapelle wurzburg
Marienkapelle
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Castles & palaces in Bavaria

Veste Coburg

veste coburg
Veste Coburg

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Harburg Castle

harburg castle
Harburg Castle

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Schloss Neuschwanstein

neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein Castle

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Irmelshausen Castle

irmelshausen castle
Water Castle Irmelshausen

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Schloss Mespelbrunn

mespelbrunn castle
Water Castle Mespelbrunn

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Veste Marienberg

marienberg castle
Veste Marienberg

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Kirchenburg Ostheim

kirchenburg
Kirchenburg Ostheim v.d Rhön

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Schloss Johannisburg

schloss johannisburg
Schloss Johannisburg

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Related pages about beautiful destinations in Bayern

How to get around in Bayern

Frankfurt is the main transportation hub in Hessen. If you visit from outside Europe you'll probably arrive at Frankfurt Rhine-Main airport. The train station in Frankfurt is one of the busiest in Germany, as is the Frankfurter Kreuz for the Autobahn.

Travel by Train

It is easy to get around by train.
ICE trains stop in Frankfurt, Hanau, Fulda, Kassel and Limburg. Regional trains connect the rural areas with the cities. If a village doesn't have a train station, there is certainly a bus connection to the next train station.

ice train

Guided Tours from Frankfurt

When you are short of time and don't want to organise things yourself, you can visit the rhine valley, Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and other places on a day trip. There is even a fantastic 7-days excursion to all the famaous destinations in southern Germany available.

colourful tourist bus

Viator Tours from Munich

Get around by car

Major Autobahnen (motorways) through Bayern include:

A3 - from the Netherlands to Austria, the A3 goes through the Ruhr area, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Passau

A7 - from Austria to Denmark, the A7 goes from Flensburg in the north through Hamburg, Hanover, Kassel, Fulda, Würzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Ulm, Kempten, Füssen

A5 - coming from Basel (Switzerland), the A5 passes Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Bad Homburg, Giessen, and joins with the A7 near Bad Hersfeld in North Hessen.

If you want to explore the countryside, you need to get off the Autobahn and drive on Bundesstrassen (state highways) and Landesstrassen (country roads). Get a map, start planning, enjoy. Hessen is really worth to go off the beaten track.

medieval castle nuremberg
Imperial Castle Nürnberg
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Map of Bavaria & a guide book to plan your trip

Frankfurt Airport is the place where many / most international travellers arrive to start their journey in Germany.
Whether you plan to stay in Hessen, or visit other states and destinations in our beautiful country, a good travel guide and maps are essential to get around.
For a quick overview, the map below shows the main cities, mountain ranges and rivers in Hessen.

The Michelin map Germany's Southeast (Bavaria) covers the entire state of Bayern. Included is a distances & driving times chart, city maps for Munich & Nürnberg, as well as other useful information.

The Backroads of Germany is one of my favourite driving guides. Discover 24 leisurely drives to the most scenic destinations in Germany. Even if you don't want to drive yourself, the book is a great guide to find places off the beaten track and to plan your vacations.

The book and the Michelin map can be ordered online from Amazon.com.

bayern germany map

Regions of Bavaria
Map Source TUBS - Wikimedia Commons --- License
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Events in Bayern Germany

Every single town and city has many festivities to celebrate throughout a year. Local clubs and associations hold annual parades, festivals and fairs. You are going to experience all kinds of local flair and festivities when you travel around in Hessen.
Listed below are a few of the internationally known events in Hessen, and a few that fall into the insider tips category.

Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest trade show for books in Germany with participants from more than 100 countries. Every year another country is chosen as "guest of honour".
The book fair is only on the last two days open to the general public. Please be aware that you need to book hotels in Frankfurt well ahead during major trade fairs.

The Documenta in Kassel is one of the most important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. The Documenta is also known as the "museum of 100 days" because it is only an exhibition for 100 days every 5 years. The last Documenta in Kassel began on 9th June 2012, it closed on 9th September 2012.
The Documenta 14 will be held from 10. June until 17. September 2017.

IAA - Internationale Automobil Ausstellung - Frankfurt Motor Show takes place in odd-numbered years in Frankfurt. The show used to be held annually in Frankfurt until 1991. Since 1992 the show has been divided into a show of commercial vehicles, held in Hanover in even-numbered years, and a show of passenger vehicles held in Frankfurt.

Hessentag (translated Hesse Day) is an annual festival held in a different town each year. Focus of Hessentag, which usually is celebrated about ten days, is to represent customs and culture of a certain region.
As Hessentag is always in summer or late spring, there are many open air events: concerts, plays, parades, sporting events and many more. Hessentag 2016 will be held from 20. until 29. May 2016 in Herborn, while it is Rüsselheim's turn in 2017.

Local festivals with a long tradition include

  • Spring Dippemess in Frankfurt around Easter
  • Barbarossa Markt in Gelnhausen, a medieval market & fun fair, is held in March
  • Grüne Soße Festival in Frankfurt in May cherishes Frankfurt's famous dish.
  • Lamboyfest in Hanau is annually held on a weekend before or after the 13th June
  • Wäldchestag in Frankfurt is on the Tuesday after Whitsun. The famous Christmas market in Frankfurt is of course in December.
  • Heinerfest in Darmstadt - held on the first weekend in July
  • Schelmenmarkt in Gelnhausen - second October weekend

Not to mention all the wine & beer festivals and Christmas markets around Hessen. There is always something going on in our cities and towns.

In October/November Frankenstein castle becomes haunted for about two weeks. Don't miss the exciting Halloween events at the castle.

For more information about what is going on during your time of visit, contact the tourist information office at your destination.

Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links. This means when you buy a product, book a hotel, train ticket or tour through one of these links, I earn a small commission (there is no extra cost for you). This money helps me to maintain this website and provide the free information for you. Thank you in advance for your support.

Accommodation in Bayern

From the well-known international hotel chains to the private bed & breakfast, you'll find a wide range of hotels and accommodation in Bavaria.

Use the search box below, type in any city or town name, and find the best accommodation deals at HotelsCombined.

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beautiful scenery in nordheim

Nordheim v.d. Rhön
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Travel tips & articles you will enjoy. Get more info to plan your journey in Bavaria

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